Bleacher Report writer Chris Mueller on B/R as a community
Featured Columnist Chris Mueller began writing about WWE for Bleacher Report in 2008. Having attended the November writers meet-up in Chicago, he offered this post about his experiences with B/R after reading about the Los Angeles writers meet-up last week.
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I grew up in the Chicago area and have lived here my entire life, and one thing I can tell you about Chicago is that we take our sports seriously.
I was lucky enough to be born before the Bears’ last Super Bowl win. I was too young to really remember much about it other than my parents jumping for joy in front of the TV with our neighbors, but I’ve been able to enjoy the Michael Jordan years with the Bulls and world championships by the BlackHawks and White Sox.
I also became interested in pro wrestling, as it seemed to me that real life superheroes were invading my television, and I did Kyuki-Do and Judo for 13 years, eventually becoming an instructor.
What I am trying to say is my whole life has been filled with great sports moments to remember, except for those Damn Cubs. I love ‘em but they haven’t given me a World Series memory yet.
As an opinionated 7-year-old I was interested in becoming an NBA commentator, but as I grew older my interest turned toward writing. Still, it was never really a passion. More of a passing interest.
In early 2008 Bleacher Report came out of beta testing and hit the ground running. In October of that same year I stumbled upon the site and it piqued my interest.
The idea of being able to express my opinions on a site that was so much more than just another blogging platform was exciting. I joined and published my first article on the sport of pro wrestling on Oct. 29, 2008.
Looking back on it, it really does show what a novice I was at the time. How to structure a story was something I had not yet grasped. I was really just looking for a place to express my opinions.
To this day the article has only 234 reads and six comments, but at the time, this was huge to me. To know that over 200 people had read my writing: I was hooked immediately.
Less than four years later, I feel comfortable saying I have grown from an amateur writer to a journalist. An article I wrote just the other day already has over 20,000 reads and over 60 comments, and it is still growing.
I have published over 600 pieces on this site, gaining more than 2.2 million reads in the process. This is not something I would have thought possible without a degree in journalism and a job at a newspaper or Sports Illustrated.
When the Featured Columnist program began I was one of the first people on board in the WWE section and have been working toward becoming a better writer ever since.
Watching this site grow over the years, and getting to grow with it, has been amazing, but there is a greater reason for this than simply my articles getting more reads. The reason I have enjoyed my time here so much is because of the community.
The community on Bleacher Report, like any site, has its share of trolls, but there are far more supportive and pleasant people to interact with. This includes the writers and the people who comment on our work.
At the recent writers meeting in Chicago I had the opportunity to meet some of the other writers in the area, and a few from much farther away who made the trip. I had a chance to sit and talk with King Kaufman and Dave “SweetMo” Morrison.
One person in particular who I got along with really well was Chicago Bears and Cubs writer Bob Warja.
My time here has allowed me to become friends with some of the other writers, and even a mentor to others. The fact that someone recently told me that my work has inspired them to try to write for the site was one of the best compliments I have ever received.
More than anything else, what I love about this community is that there is a large majority who will be respectful, even if they disagree with what you wrote.
I wrote a piece that listed 100-some-odd things we learned from an event and it got such positive feedback that I turned it into a weekly edition, which continues every Monday night after Raw.
This is the kind of impact this community has on people, it makes them want to do more, and do it better.
Because of this site I have had my work featured on WWE.com and sent out by various wrestlers through their Twitter and Facebook pages, had my quotes featured on other news sites and even had the chance to do some interesting interviews.
Anyone who has seen “Top Shot” on the History channel might want to check out my interview with last season’s most controversial contestant, Jake Zweig.
Had it not been for this site, I would never have had the chance to do something like that, just like I would not have been able to interview Chicago Bears tight end Kyle Adams earlier this season.
Writing for this site has allowed me to explore a career field I did not think I would ever be able to break into. The editors give helpful feedback and the community leaders do a great job of supporting us. Overall, I would say writing here has been one of the most educational experiences of my entire life.
I have been approached by other upstart sites to write for them as well, but my loyalty lies with B/R because theirs has been with me since the beginning.
This site is helping me carve a future in the world of sports journalism and there is no way I can say “Thank you” enough to the people who work hard making this site better every day.